Ironman defenseman Dan Girardi will return to the lineup for the New York Rangers Monday for the first time since Dec. 12 after missing time before the Christmas break with a cracked kneecap, Girardi told reporters Sunday. The alternate captain suffered the injury when blocking a shot in a Dec. 9 game against the Vancouver Canucks.
After trying to play through the injury for the next two games, Girardi finally made the decision to sit out when the pain and swelling became too much to play through. Although Girardi still has a small crack in the kneecap, he told reporters the injury can't get worse by playing and should not require surgery.
Girardi's return will be a big boost for a Rangers team which has struggled with a thin defensive corps this month with defenseman Kevin Klein also out due to injury. The slumping Rangers are 3-6-2 in December and went 2-3-0 without Girardi. The defenseman ranks third on the team with a plus-5 rating and has nine points (two goals, seven assists) through 31 games.
“I think it almost came at a good time, really,” Girardi told reporters. “… You just clear your head and think about what’s going on the first couple months here. Hopefully, it’s a reset button, really. Take some time, relax, rest the body and come back.”